National Geographic : 1980 Sep
Saudi Arabia "THERE is no god but God; Muhammad is the messen ger of God," proclaims the Saudi flag. A sword of righ teousness underscores the Is lamic creed as well as the evolution of a country born from the union of ideology and military force. The alliance was forged in the mid-18th century when an emir, Mu hammad ibn Saud, joined fundamentalist Muhammad ibn Abdulwahhab and con quered central Arabia. By 1818, the Ottoman Empire halted the expansion... tem porarily. In 1902 Abdulaziz captured Riyadh, reinstated the Al Sauds to leadership, and paved the way to unification. The history of Saudi Arabia is thus the history of the House of Saud. If it is acceptable to the family, rule passes to the oldest surviving son of Abdulaziz. Crown Prince Fahd (below, with son Abdulaziz) will suc ceed King Khalid. Religion and government remain interlocked. The Ko ran stands as constitution, and the ulama is always con sulted about major domestic decisions. AREA: 830,000 square miles. POPULATION: Saudis estimate nearly 8,000,000. RELIGION: Muslim. LANGUAGE: Arabic. ECONOMY: Oil, oil products, gas. MAJOR CITIES: Riyadh, capital (pop. 1,000,000); Jiddah (pop. 1,000,000); Mecca (pop. 425,000).